Another 19 carbon credit boiler room scams bite the dust. Including (not before time) Carbon Neutral Investments

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On 3 February 2016, the High Court in London ordered 19 companies into liquidation, following an investigation by the Insolvency Agency. One of the companies is CNI (UK) Ltd, whose director Edward Carlton had previously worked as “Head of UK Operations” at Carbon Neutral Investments.

REDD-Monitor first wrote about Carbon Neutral Investments in November 2012, after Enviro Associates was caught by the BBC making misleading claims about carbon credits.

“We are a clearing member of Carbon Neutral Investments Limited (CNI),” Enviro Associates stated on its website. Enviro Associates is another of the 19 companies shut down by the High Court.

Carbon Neutral Investments’ list of clearing members included almost 90 companies, many of which will be familiar to readers of REDD-Monitor’s “boiler room” series of posts.

Paul Seakens was a director of both Enviro Associates and Carbon Neutral Investments.

The Insolvency Service’s investigation revealed that the companies were involved in selling well over 5 million carbon credits to retail investors, for more than £36 million.

The Insolvency Service found that nearly 90 broker companies were involved in the scheme, many of which have since been closed down. (The Insolvency Service doesn’t say whether the 90 companies were those on Carbon Neutral Investments’ list of clearing members, but most of the 19 companies shut down were on the list.)

The Insolvency Service comments as follows about CNI (UK) Ltd:

The company is shown to have taken over the carbon offsetting and consultancy business of a related company of similar name in or around April 2013, adopting a near identical website.

When I wrote about the links between CNI (UK) Ltd and Carbon Neutral Investments I received a letter from Thomas Eggar LLP, a UK-based firm of solicitors, acting on behalf of CNI (UK) Ltd. Thomas Eggar informed me that “any association with … the company Carbon Neutral Investments is false.” Oops.

CNI (UK) Ltd has appeared several times on REDD-Monitor, and played a starring role in a great series of posts by Richard Smith on Naked Capitalism.

In a press release, Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Services, says:

“This stoke of boiler rooms was one giant scam emitting the now all too familiar hot air on an industrial scale, persuading ordinary people to part with their hard earned savings to invest in near worthless voluntary carbon credits which were aggressively peddled to them by these companies at significantly inflated prices.”

Here’s a list of the 19 companies that were shut down:

  1. Alpine Consult Limited was incorporated in April 2010. The current director is James Brown. From April 2010 to September 2012, Thomas Knifton was a director. The company was sole supplier of the carbon credits that the boiler rooms sold to retail investors. Between September 2011 and April 2012 the company received £808,000 for the supply of carbon credits. James Brown, Thomas Knifton and Paul Seakens were directors of Carbon Neutral Investments. Knifton has something of a history with boiler room scams.
  2. Environmental Acquisitions Limited was registered in the British Virgin Islands in April 2012. The sole director is a company registered in the Bahamas called White Port Finance Ltd The ultimate beneficial owner of the company is Thomas Knifton. Environmental Acquisitions took over from Alpine Consult as supplier of carbon credits to boiler rooms. In two months it issued invoices for £2,310,000.
  3. Blue Horizons Trading Ltd was incorporated in August 2011. In August 2015 the company went into voluntary liquidation. The directors were Richard Brindle and Richard Smith. Between January 2012 and February 2013, the company sold 348,502 carbon credits to retail investors for £2,186,502. Comments about Blue Horizons Trading have appeared on REDD-Monitor here, here, here, and here.
  4. Burlington Energy Markets Ltd was incorporated in May 2012 and dissolved in February 2015. The directors were Thomas White and Charles Duffield. In December 2012, the City of London Police arrested eight men “after finding evidence linking them to fraudulent companies Hudson Forbes, CT Carbon and Burlington Energy Markets”.
  5. Charles Stratton Limited was incorporated in August 2011. Directors were Sami Raja (until November 2011) and Ansar Ali (until September 2012). Between October 2011 and January 2013, the company sold 175,105 carbon credits for £1,037,109 to retail investors. Comments about Charles Stratton Limited have appeared on REDD-Monitor here and here.
  6. Claremont James Ltd was incorporated in January 2012. The directors were Brendan Cullen (until March 2012) and James Jarman. Between February 2012 and February 2013, the company sold 70,924 carbon credits to retail investors for £501,758.
  7. CNI (UK) Limited was incorporated in January 2013. The directors were Edward Carlton until October 2014, when Michael Fortun took over.
  8. Clear View Partnership Ltd was incorporated in June 2012. The directors were David Pierce (until September 2012) and Ashley Hunte (from June 2012). Between January and February 2013 the company sold 25,765 carbon credits to retail investors for £156,601. REDD-Monitor wrote about Clear View Partnership in May 2013, and comments about the company have appeared on REDD-Monitor here and here.
  9. Eden Brown Group S.L. was registered in Spain in October 2009. The director was Michelle Blackwood. Between March 2012 and January 2013, the company sold 137,800 carbon credits to retail investors for £788,789.
  10. Enviro Associates Limited was registered in February 2011. The directors were Luke Ryan and Paul Seakens (from June 2011 to December 2012). Between October 2011 and February 2013, the company sold 301,066 carbon credits to retail investors for £1,451,140. REDD-Monitor first wrote about Enviro Associates in November 2012.
  11. Global Carbon Exchange Limited was incorporated in June 2011. The director was Stephen May. Between January and June 2013 the company sold a total of 39,283 carbon credits to to retail investors for £271,986.
  12. Harman Royce Limited was incorporated in November 2011. The directors were Sami Raja (unitl August 2012), Sandeep Dosanjh (until August 2012), and Lynn Howard (from July 2012). Between February 2012 and January 2013, the company sold 204,164 carbon credits to retail investors for £1,288,704. Comments about Harman Royce have appeared on REDD-Monitor here, here, and here.
  13. Karlsson Chase Limited was incorporated in December 2011. The sole director was Adam Hawkins. Between April 2012 and February 2013, the company sold 60,299 carbon credits to retail investors for £443,893.
  14. Liberty Alternative Investments Limited was incorporated in January 2012. The directors were Michelle Blackwood (until February 2012), Henry Shaw (from February 2012 to April 2013) and Michelle Blackwood-Maccow (from April 2013). Between May 2012 and January 2013, the company sold 116,822 carbon credits to retail investors for £701,512.
  15. New Frontier Partnership Ltd was incorporated in July 2010. The directors were Graham Manuel and Michael Duff (from July 2011 to October 2012). Between November 2012 and January 2013, the company sold 14,012 carbon credits to retail investors for £64,016.
  16. Oswald Bradshaw Limited was incorporated in November 2011. The directors were John Oakes, Colby Short (until August 2012), and Sami Raja (until January 2012). Between December 2011 and January 2013, the company sold 75,311 carbon credits to retail investors for £409,683. Comments about Oswald Bradshaw have appeared on REDD-Monitor here, here, and here.
  17. Pure Carbon Ltd was incorporated in July 2011. The sole director was Steven Sulley. Between February 2012 and February 2013, the company sold 513,779 carbon credits to retail investors for £3,191,054. Comments about Pure Carbon have appeared on REDD-Monitor here, here, here, here, and here.
  18. Seasaw Limited was incorporated in August 2011. The sole director was Edward Carlton. Between August 2011 and February 2013, the company received £148,074 from sales of carbon credits to retail investors.
  19. Strategic Carbon Solutions Ltd was incorporated in August 2011. The sole director was Robert Turner. Between November 2011 and January 2012, the company sold 82,830 carbon credits to retail investors for £583,861.
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6 Comments

  1. Any news on the Frost brothers and Viceroy Jones that Action Fraud were dealing with ?

  2. @Phil Wilkinson (#1) – The press release from the Insolvency Service, includes this statement:

    Also presented in the High Court at the same time were petitions to wind up a further 10 companies on grounds of public interest and those petitions remain opposed (including in the case of Viceroy Jones Ltd, its restoration to the register) and are listed for trial in the High Court in early 2017. No further details regarding the action taken against those companies will be made available until the petitions against them have been determined by the Court.

    The opposing 10 companies are:

    – Opus Capital Limited (company number 08380328)
    – Gemmax Solutions Limited (company number 07260486)
    – Opus Capital Investments Limited (company number 07768323)
    – Otium Ventures plc (company number 05874310)
    – Vaeron Finance Limited (company number 07241915)
    – Tocan Limited (company number 07662985)
    – Opus Clearing Limited (company number 07670885)
    – Gemmax Solutions Nominees Limited (company number 08481505)
    – Yarmouth Place Limited (company number 08331161)
    – Viceroy Jones Ltd (dissolved company number 0791260)

  3. I am trying to deal with a company involved in this scam. Would you suggest I report the matter to Company Investigations Supervisors at the Insolvency Services rather than keep bashing my head against a brick wall.

    I also can’t understand why I, as a company director am continuously prompted by HMRC, Companies House, VAT etc to keep supplying information and paying tax by its due date on threat of all manner of fines etc – aren’t these authorities interested in these scammers?-

  4. Is there any due process that one can go through to get any compensation?

    I have contacted lawyers and the ombudsman, but does anyone have any stories of successful claims etc. Is there anyway i can recover any of my money?

    My credits were brought at £7.50 through CNI and Gemmax and i can only estimate that i could sell them for 0.10-0.50 if at all!! its disgusting that a registered London stock broker can be cold selling in an unregulated market with no repercussions and no support for the victims.

  5. I’m trying to find other investors that have dealt with GE Commodities, owned by Mr James Hoile.

    This company looks like it is about to wind up and close. Its present status is “Active – Proposal to Strike off”. Any contact would be appreciated.

  6. John, We have, unfortunately, had dealings with GEC and Mr Hoile. We believe that his company is no longer trading or at least shouldn’t be!

    Jack, did you ever get anywhere in trying to pursue some sort of compensation for the apparent mis-selling? We too would be keen to try and find out more about any possible routes to recover some of the monies lost.

    Despite our best efforts and working with the relevant authorities, we do not feel that we are receiving any help whatsoever! It is all incredibly frustrating to be honest.

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